LISBON - For the second time in seven months, the Ohio Attorney General's Office assisted in obtaining a conviction in a Columbiana County traffic-accident case, and county Prosecutor Robert Herron is grateful for the help.
Herron said the AG's office created a special prosecutor's unit several years ago to help county prosecutors when needed, whether it be with cases requiring a particular area of expertise or other issues.
Perhaps best of all, the service is provided for free.
"It's a great resource, and we don't have to fork out money from the general fund to have a special prosecutor's office appointed (at county expense)," he said.
The latest such case occurred two weeks ago when Thomas C. Grove, 46, of Darlington, Pa., was sentenced in county Common Pleas Court to six months in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated vehicular assault. The charge stemmed from a traffic accident that occurred in Unity Township near the Pennsylvania line on Jan. 5, 2010. Grove drove left of center on state Route 14, striking head-on a vehicle being driven by Jerry Clark, 57, of New Castle, Pa. Attorneys with the AG's office served as special prosecutors in the case.
Grove was taken to the Beaver Valley Medical Center in Beaver, Pa., where a blood-alcohol test was performed. Lt. Joseph Dragovich of the Lisbon Post of the Ohio Highway Patrol said Pennsylvania's blood-alcohol standards are different than Ohio's, creating a potential interstate legal issue. Dragovich said the AG's office had just successfully prosecuted another case under similar circumstances, which is why he suggested using them.
Lisa Peterson Hackley of the AG's office said they were asked to take the case because their "lawyers have experience with issues of evidentiary admissibility in other states' blood-alcohol content analysis."
Herron said it is his understanding the AG's office frequently assists in traffic accident cases involving the state patrol because they tend to require specialized expertise.
"The purpose is to help prosecutors throughout the state," and they have assisted in almost every county, Herron said.
He believes the special unit was created under AG Mike DeWine, whose representatives attend meetings of the state association of county prosecutors encouraging counties to use their services.
Herron said they are currently handling two other cases that the AG's office may be asked to take.